“But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods. ” Jeremiah 44:5
It seemed the last few weeks were a bit busy for us. While Brian had off from work for about a week for summer break, there were still preparations that we needed to do, some just by ourselves, but some with other people. And of course when everyone has different schedules, it doesn’t always come out smoothly but praise the Lord, it got done!
First we had a “concert” at Tanpopoen Nursing Home! That was very neat to be apart of! The staff did it up nicely! They had little games outside along with some food. Inside they had food and all the music going on. We even did bingo! (My card must have been broken. I didn’t even win anything!) They had what seemed like some kind of school that teaches, I believe, “taiko” which are Japanese percussion instruments. Then Hiroko (Brian’s boss) sang some songs. She sang “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic. I’ll just let the picture speak for itself! And Brian, Makito and I sang some hymns…. in Japanese! Considering two out of three aren’t fluent in the language, I’d say it wasn’t a train wreck. Maybe more like a fender bender. 🙂 So despite me making up words, we pray that it ministered to the people. One thing that is tricky about either singing gospel music or hymns and hoping that people will come to Christ as their personal Savior is that they think that they can just “collect gods”. It needs to be very clearly communicated to them that there is only One True God, and that they can’t have any other gods. Please pray for the people of Japan that their eyes would be open to that Truth and also pray for us that we may know how to communicate that to them!
Sunday was a little different than usual as we had a man named Rainier join us, who has been doing missions works in the Tokyo area for some years now. He ended up giving the sad news that he was going back to the Philippines (he’s Filipino) in December, but we are happy that we got to meet him. He gave a Sunday morning message and then he gave a message at our Worship service that we had a bit later in the afternoon and they had us to sing there as well. It was great to get together with a church in the area to just worship the Lord.
Sunday evening had been an evening that Brian and I have been waiting for since we found out about O-bon! A little back story on O-bon. O-bon is a time that Buddhists believe that their ancestors come back to this world and visit family. They really have quite a bit of things that they do to help “bring back” their loved ones. For example, they make a horse out a cucumber to bring in their ancestors quickly and make a cow out of eggplant to send them off slowly because they don’t like good-byes.
Another thing that they do that we were able to witness is that they put lit lanterns in the rivers as a way to light their ancestors way back to the spirit world. I mean, this lantern ceremony is a big deal and there are a ton of people at it. As much as it is really gorgeous to see the lanterns lit floating down the river but at the same time, it’s very sad as people believe everything behind the meaning. And what was also sad was when we went back to the bus that takes you to the parking lot, there were some men standing at a spot in the river collecting all the lanterns out of the water. It’s almost like there really is no meaning in actually sending the lanterns down if someone is just gonna scoop them up. How do you determine the ancestors got back safely? Truly, there are so many questions you’d like to ask people and hopefully, you’d get them to think about things rather than just believing it because someone said that this is what will happen if you do this.
While the last few weeks had it’s times of grief for us (as we watch people faithfully doing something that will not benefit them eternally) and while it seemed like we had a ton of things to do in a certain amount of time, it was still a great week! God is still working on us. Showing us things in our lives. He continues to lay “visions” that we hope to keep so the people don’t perish. Again, please pray for the people of Japan. It is a first world country, but it’s a first world country that doesn’t really get to hear the gospel and if they do, they may not receive it clearly from just one meeting. It’s truly a relationship building place. They need to see it played out in real life, but also they need to hear it too.